The days of burying treasure are here again.
This time, though, it’s not pirates and thieves hiding stolen jewels and gold coins.
Now it's part of a popular hobby called geocaching. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature.
The goal of the sport is to uncover a cache of loot that another participant has hidden in a remote location. Hiding spots can range from inside hollow trees to the sides of a cliff or even under water. There are no limits to where you can hide a stash.
To get started in the addictive hobby, all you need is your smart phone.
Access to the Internet is vital to learning where caches are hidden. The folks who initially establish the cache use the Web to post a description of the goods in the cache and its exact location.
Simply log onto one of the many geocaching websites (my favorite is www.geocaching.com) and enter a zip code. You’ll be amazed at the variety of caches the site will reveal.
With more than a million cache sites reported in all 50 states and hundreds of countries, there are plenty to choose from. Just in York County, there are dozens of caches that will keep people of all ages entertained.
Once you’ve found a cache that sounds interesting and you decide to go outside and search for it, enter the coordinates listed on the Web into your phone or GPS unit. With accurate coordinates, you'll be able to navigate within just a few feet of the cache.
Once you find it, the real excitement begins. The possibilities of what treasure lies inside are endless. It could be a simple pen and logbook to record your name and the date you visited, or it could be a stockpile of valuable rewards that will go to the first person to reach it. It's impossible to know what the last visitor to the site might have left behind.
Many caches have themes. At these sites, visitors are asked to leave an item that follows the guideline of the theme.
One local cache is devoted to the growing popularity of poker. Folks savvy enough to find it are asked to take two cards from the deck inside an old ammunition box. Once back home, the lucky geocachers record their cards on the cache's website.
When the entire deck has been "dealt," the participant with the best hand wins a prize promised to them by the site's owner. This unique theme adds a fun and healthy twist to a game that is normally reserved for dark, smoky bar rooms.
Geocaching is an excellent hobby that will get you outdoors and into areas that you probably would have never visited. Nearly anybody can participate in the fun.
If you’re a novice to the outdoors, you can stick with caches along major trails. If you have an adventurous spirit, you can seek out the most remote caches hidden far out of sight or hidden high atop a steep mountain.
Even if you don’t find the valuable treasure you’re searching for, as long as you get outdoors, you’ll reap all of the bounty that Mother Nature has to offer.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.